francization of cyberspace

Alkistis Fleischer fleischa at georgetown.edu
Thu Jul 10 21:25:22 UTC 2003


France adopts Quebec term for e-mail
     
      
      Canadian Press 


Thursday, July 10, 2003
     
France has taken a French lesson from its Quebec cousins, announcing electronic mail will be known as a "courriel" - a term coined by a Montreal professor. 

La Commission generale de terminologie et de néologie, overseer of the French language in France, has adopted the term seven years after it was first used by University of Montreal literature professor Jean-Claude Guédon. 

The word "courriel" recently appeared in the language commission's official publication, and use of the term will be mandatory throughout the French government. 

The commission had high praise for the word courriel, which first appeared in Guédon's 1996 book, La Planète cyber (The Cyber Planet). 

"Evocative, with a very French sound, the word courriel is widely used in the media and is preferable to the English term `mail,'" said the commission. 

Guédon created the word courriel by contracting the words "courrier électronique," the French term for electronic mail. 

The new word soon caught on in Quebec and throughout the French-speaking world - except in France, where the word mail remained the preferred term for e-mail. 

Courriel gradually began popping up on business cards across France in the late 1990s. But it was still seen as a Québécois novelty until 2000, when it appeared in world's foremost French-language dictionary, Le Petit Larousse. 

Guédon's influence on French technical jargon has earned him a degree of notoriety in his home province. 

L'Office de la langue française, overseer of the French language in Quebec, honoured Guédon this spring for his "exceptional (contribution) to the francization of cyberspace." 

© Copyright 2003 Canadian Press
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